Tune into: Composable Cloud
Transcript: 2021 is just underway, but the word composable is already engaging in valiant efforts to become the it word (or IT word) of the year. Composable infrastructure, composable architecture, composable business, composable enterprise and yes, of course also Composable Cloud. If only because of the nice alliteration. The question is however how Composable Cloud will be defined or what true changes it will bring. For now let’s think of composability as: being able to create something new and unique, when and where needed, from standard components.
With any new IT term becoming popular (or hyped) we first see a fair amount of name washing. Where the market takes an existing offering or concept and applies the new moniker to make it look fresh. Take on-premises systems. These have been around for decades and yes they lived on the edge of the public internet, but remember who was there first. So now it is tempting to rebrand these as edge servers and hop on the edge express to commercial success. Same for composable. The ondemand and self service nature of software defined infrastructure makes infrastructure somewhat composable. So of goes a new brochure to the printer (or nowadays to the website) rebranding the existing offering as composable. But does it realy make a changes, does it add something new? At the technology level, composability was a holy grail for decades but nowadays it has become a fact of life (been there, done that).
We gotta make “changes”, even if they change us
Composable Cloud should therefore be used to describe a form of cloud we currently do not have yet. The cloud started its life as three distinct service models, namely IaaS, PaaS and SaaS. Three distinctly different offerings, addressing three distinctly different needs of three distinctly different audiences.
- SaaS offers standard, predefined, out of the box functionality for the type of commodity processes (systems of record) that any enterprise has hundreds off. It is often brought in by end-user departments. Initialy procured rogue, on their corporate credit card, but nowadays increasingly through approved corporate procurement processes.
- PaaS on the other hand offers a convenient platform to create and build new, differentiating and unique business processes (it eliminates most of the “undifferentiated heavy lifting” on the technology side, but not on the business functionality side). PaaS adoption is driven jointly by the professional and citizen developers working in line of business departments. PaaS is where digital transformation happens.
- And third IaaS. A place to potentially move the remaining workloads to. Workloads that have not been replaced by out of the box SaaS or reimagined as a fully digital business process on PaaS. Migration is the name of the game here and the business may not even notice what is going on (same applications, some functionality, simply running somewhere else). Benefits and adoption are more by IT for IT.
With a cloud made up of IaaS, PaaS and SaaS, creating a cloud strategy often means figuring out what goes where:
- What is a commodity or system of record (replace with SaaS),
- What is new and unique (reimagined on PaaS)
- and finaly (last by design) what will be left and could be rehosted/refactored onto the cloud or simply retained where it was.
But enterprises did not ask for this “either/or” type of choice. They much rather would eat their cake and have it too. Be able to create new processes using of the shelf business functions that can work in concert with their existing applications. While still delivering cloud native benefits, such as elasticity, scalability, shared use, pay as you go, and easy access. So the “changes” of Composable Cloud will include – in the long run – blurring or merging these three so far largely distinct cloud markets .
Gotta take on the rain before the clouds will be gone
There’s no blue sky without a storm
To be able to deliver this, a new ecosystem approach is needed. Where vendors formerly know as IaaS, PaaS or SaaS provider will collaborate closely. Initially maybe in some form of walled gardens, created around a powerful market party, conducting the effort. But over time hopefully more open by leveraging standards and guided by government and industry initiatives.
Changes is the title track from an album of the same name by Dutch artist Ilse de Lange. Changes was launched during 2020 (between wave 1 and 2 of the 2020 pandemic) as part of a campaign to (virtually) penetrate the German market following her successful involvement with the Eurovision song contest.
To play the song from this blogcast post, please click the link below.
Disclaimer: These thoughts and views are my own and do not represent those of my employer (per linked policy)